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April 19, 2024

Cybersecurity Challenges on the Rise in Vietnam

cyber security
April 19, 2024

Vietnam's National Cyber Security Center reported a concerning uptick in cyber-attacks in 2023, with 13,900 incidents recorded a 9.5% increase compared to 2022. This surge places Vietnam third among Southeast Asian countries most impacted by cybersecurity related threats.

The majority of these attacks targeted businesses operating online, including finance, e-commerce, telecommunications, and technology driven sectors such as banks, securities firms, and IT companies. Notably, companies in key sectors such as power companies, petroleum firms, banks, stock markets, and even medical infrastructure networks have become increasingly targeted by cybercriminals. This is evident from recent high-profile attacks on VNDirect, Vietnam's third-largest broker by transaction volume, and PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (PVOIL), a major state-owned petroleum distributor.

VNDirect fell victim to an international cyberattack on March 24, crippling its operations for days by encrypting all of its data. As a result, hundreds of thousands of investors faced difficulties placing orders or withdrawing funds, leading to a complete suspension of trading for several days. One week later, on April 2, PVOil experienced a ransomware attack that encrypted its data and paralyzed its information system. PVOIL struggled to maintain gasoline retail sales to customers to prevent disruptions in the supply of this essential commodity.

In response to the severity of the situation, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh issued Directive 33/CĐ-TTg/2024 on April 7, requesting that state agencies, organizations, and businesses prioritize the highest level of cybersecurity in their information systems. The Minister of Information and Communications (MIC) has been tasked with directing ministries, sectors, and localities to assess cybersecurity implementation status of state agencies and state enterprises by April 11, reporting to the Prime Minister by April 30, 2024. Additionally, the MIC needs to instruct leading agencies in key sectors requiring prioritized cybersecurity to review and assess their status by April 20 and report to the Prime Minister by May 10, 2024.

Individual citizens are also not exempt from these cyber threats. A report by the Global Anti-Scam Alliance revealed that in 2023, Vietnam suffered a staggering loss of approximately 16.23 billion USD, equivalent to 3.6% of its GDP, due to online scams. The Department of Cybersecurity and Prevention of Crime using High Technology under Vietnam Ministry of Public Security (MPS) warns that cyber-attacks are evolving in complexity. As Vietnam grapples with these challenges, fostering stringent cybersecurity practices and adhering to international standards will be crucial to safeguarding its digital landscape.

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